Cast: Karis Cameron, Baya Ipatowicz, Nelson Leis, Alison Wandzura, John Emmet Tracy
Lindsey is forced to babysit her sister, Becky, one night, when, after innocently falling asleep, wakes up to find her sister gone. Someone has taken Becky and could be after her as well. – Blood in the Snow Festival
The Whistler is a short film that definitely feels very polished from the acting to the setting to the screenplay itself. While it only runs 11 minutes, the short film takes on quite a few memorable bits. One of the fun parts is its playful mentions of various iconic horror movies, for example a clever mention of Crystal Lake. The other one is having The Whistler start as a fairy tale or lore of sorts and build it from there, making us wonder on not only whether it is real or not but also how it ends.
As the movie brings in those elements of the fairy tale becoming a reality, the pieces fall into place and it all comes down to Lindsey who witnesses it all. The atmosphere and the music and sound effects here play a big part in making it all bring in a lot of the sinister feeling. Adding in some of the effects like how the eyes change and whatnot in the film that work just well enough for its purpose. At the same time, there keeps a creepy feeling that keeps us on the edge. At the same time, the cast of young actresses here do a great job in each of their roles.
There is still a sense of The Whistler being an indie film. However, whether we are talking about the acting and the cast or the story and the execution and all the effects, there is a lot to love here. It builds a nice atmosphere and its a fun little movie to watch. There is a nice twist of whether this is a fairy tale or the reality and the ending also brings in a bit of a question which can be interpreted from what was talked about previously in the film. Some of the bits here are slightly predictable but the sum of its parts definitely makes this one a short that I’d recommend.
The Whistler was a part of the Bloody Bits Showcase Part 2 at the Blood in the Snow Festival 2018.
November has come to an end. That was a quick and really busy month. Suffice to say, some projects and goals and that endless to-do list had its ups and downs. Its just how it is. The first part is accepting and being okay with it all. Not to mention, everything in general was kind of overwhelming so mentally, not in such a great spot. Its probably telling me something but I’m not going to discuss that because there are a lot of things on my mind right now as 2018 heads into its last month and I’m thinking a lot about 2019.
Blood in the Snow Festival (BITS 2018)
First time tackling remote coverage is definitely a pretty good experience. Unlike physically being at the festival, remote coverage is all about time management and working with embargos and getting things done in a timely fashion because there is nothing pushing physically to be done and its all more superficial. Blog technicalities aside, its also the first time working on Blood in the Snow Festival and it had a lot of interesting and intriguing movies to offer. Nothing that was disappointing but some were average and some were amazing. It had different genres and covered Canadian films which I love to dive into. Its only a few days long which is a much lighter festival but its a pity to not be on the spot to see all the industry panels and everything they have to offer. The variety of content alone makes it an interesting one to be present in person for.
With that said, all the movies have been reviewed:
With that said, a festival page under movies for Blood in the Snow Festival has been created now so you can find all the reviews HERE.
Black Friday was pretty calm this year. I didn’t go out with a huge intention of spending a lot so I found some deals that I thought were worth it to fill some of the needs and stuff. A few purchases were surprises but nothing that broke the piggy bank too much.
Christmas is in full effect at our house. I only showed the new little bits of our place and the Christmas tree. I might have a little Christmas decorations thing in December but then its not a big change anyways.
The week after I decided to do NaNoWriMo, things pretty much went downhill. After BITS 2018 came onto my radar and work got hectic and whatnot, that was it. I never expected to finish it in the first place but I had to put it aside if I wanted to at least have some normal sleeping schedule. Either way, I might actually work on that during the year afterwards. I have some nice ideas for my fanfic. I’ve never written one and sponataneity wasn’t really working. Either way, not feeling too bad about it. Something had to be give and this was the choice I had to make.
Next year though, I do want to get back to it and get some planning done beforehand.
Announcement: Christmas/Holiday Marathon
We head into December tomorrow. Like the last few years, I’m going to be doing a little holidays and Christmas marathon of sorts. I’m going to see if I can find some holiday themed books to end the year while probably go through some films on Netflix. Its slim pickings and mostly Hallmark type films but I’ll make do with what I can. This will be the official announcement for the marathon.
Some titles considered right now:
The Princess Switch
The Holiday Calendar
The Night Before
A Christmas Prince 2 (I saw that its supposed to be released in December)
Nailed It! Holiday (also coming out in December)
The Christmas Chronicles
El Camino Christmas
Thats it for this Weekly Adventures! What have you been up to?
Cast: Jack Foley, Laura Tremblay, Mike Donis, Kristen Da Silva, Michael Lipka, Evan Siemann
Amnesiac Malcolm struggles to put the pieces of his life back together and begins questioning those closest to him in this puzzle of memory and identity. – IMDB
Fugue might be one of the hardest ones to write about because of how easy it is to jump into spoiler territory. It also kight be the hardest to search up because to my surprise, there are a lot of movies released as Fugue this year. Not sure how the other ones are but this Fugue is one of the highlights of BITS 2018. There is a great level of craftmanship and execution and pacing that plays so well together along with a small enough cast for us to care and feel involved with. There are so many questions right from the start. At the same time, the timeline is a little scrambled but never confusing to follow and is all in the attentiveness of the details. It is those clues here and the questions there that build up this mystery and have all kinds of thrills.
Malcolm (Jack Foley) is an intriguing character and it has to do with a contrast that is presented to us in the first and second acts which is where the questions come up. Then the character remains a mystery because of all the questions surrounding him. Jack Foley was a supporting character in Lifechanger (review) at Fantasia Festival and delivered a great role but there is no denying that he has a lot more to offer especially after seeing Fugue. Malcolm is a role with a very big contrast in just the first two acts and he is able to handle it convincingly. The cast here is small but they all grasp their role really well. Its hard to dive into each character without spoiling the movie.
Fugue benefits from a lot other than its characters and its puzzling mystery plot. It uses an isolated one location setting. Its smart because it gives it a much more narrow scope. It never needs to share unnecessary information of its characters, keeping them simple but never feeling like they lack depth either. Its a true challenge that not a lot of films are able to achieve and this one does a great job at executing it. I highly recommend this one.
Cast: Liv Collins (co-writer), Adam Seybold, Ry Barrett
A man with partial blindness and a young pregnant police officer must work together to escape from a deadly virus that has spread across Grey County. – IMDB
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen these days. So many of them pop up and disappear but then every once in a while, we see some that add their own twist either with their characters or their plot. Deadsight takes the route of having two rather weaker protagonists who end up meeting and fighting for survival together. Its a refreshing idea not only for choosing not really less competent characters but characters both with physical weaknesses or hindrances to their health temporarily to have to fight together but also the fact that the reason behind why all this happened and how this deadly virus has caused this zombie apocalypse of sorts.
With that said, its important to take a look at these two main characters. Ben (Adam Seybold) who is partially blind gives the fear because the audience can see his attackers before he can, creating a lot of fast-paced tense moments. On the other hand, Mara (Liv Collins) who is pregnant has the obvious disadvantage of having less physical capacity as she obviously has because she is a police officer and that makes her a strong character because she is quite resourceful. As much as these two have their weaknesses, they also never dwell on them and because stronger and more capable roles because of it. Another nice part here that cuts out a lot of any drama is making these two strictly staying in line with surviving, and what makes this executed well is that while we never learn too much about these character’s backgrounds, it is their actions during this situation they are thrown in and crafts their true nature and personality and makes us want them to make it out of this ordeal alive.
Aside from well-crafted characters, Deadsight also is well-paced. That is linked to a previous comment about keeping it less about drama and more about survival which a lot of horror films forget about. At the same time, there might not be a whole lot of dialogue between the characters but there is a decent bit of zombie attacks, escapes and encounters to make it an intense and fast-paced work. A part of this has to do with the camera work and how it delivers each of these scenes and the other part has to do with having an impressive soundtrack that is subtle but also creates the proper atmosphere. Not to mention the zombies are also designed really well.
If there is one little thing to criticize about Deadsight, it would have to be that all the characters have this incredible desire to throw out their weapons after one use. That doesn’t mean guns but rather axes or things that can be used over and over again. However, that can be overlooked since many films do happen to do that. One thing that lift this film is its camaraderie between the characters despite being strangers, especially in the final at when they complement each other’s weaknesses to be a stronger team. The whole movie is done well but the final act has some great elements as it works itself to end on an intense note. Deadsight is a well-executed zombie film that you should watch.
Deadsight is screening its world premiere on November 25th at 4:30pm at The Royal Cinema for Blood in the Snow Festival.
Cast: Rob Raco, Josh Collins, Samantha Carly, Parmiss Sehat
Hammer of the Gods is the story of falling-from-grace rock group half a decade after the release of their hit single, as they travel deep into the Canadian wilderness on a spirit journey. – IMDB
Horror films set in the wilderness is fairly underused. The Canadian wilderness is a vast and intriguing location to choose. Hammer of the Gods sets their story in the Canadian wilderness starting right away to show off the vast nature surrounding where this starts on a big area of water, a lake that leads into a water system to start their adventure for a one time wonder rock band, Sled Dog out to find inspiration for their future music. Being a horror thriller, this one takes its story through an acid trip journey while following some specific rules set on the first night by this band for the three members and a groupie they picked up at the beginning of the trip. Hammer of the Gods is set up for success in its premise. However, in the actual execution, this is where it starts to fall apart slightly.
One of the main issues with the film is how it takes a long and dragged out first act to get to its climax point. However, once it gets there, it also has the issue of whether the reveal was slightly too early before it got to the grand finale where everything unravels to a certain point. The first act which lasts almost the first half of the film is full of very small things. There is somewhat of a Predator sort of idea where there’s these moments of something lurking in the forest observing and following. There’s the big question of whether they are hallucinations from the drug and that is the assumption that is expected to be drawn but of course, there is something more. However, after many scenes of these moments that feel somewhat disjointed but seem to also escalate a little more from one to the next, it still is done well however at one point overstays its welcome slightly. When the turning point comes and we have the first reveal of sorts, it becomes this appreciated moment but then it also seems like its still a little too abrupt and makes us wonder how much farther this story can go. What happens as it goes to the end does work but at some point, the reveal of the true nature of what lurks in this journey, how real this all is as well as the true intention of this journey (because why wouldn’t it not have another layer), turns into this dramatic point for its band members that feel already too late and inappropriate to be dealing with this when survival is the more important part of the equation.
As much as the execution as its issues, what does stand out in Hammer of the Gods is its use of its natural atmosphere and surrounds. The camerawork here works to the advantage as it helps to focus on the forest in each location. The canoe rides and the conversations all have a deeper meaning and the layout of events, although taking dragged out has a lot of atmospheric moments that create a decent level of tension. The second half of the film in that regards, aside from some dramatic moments which understandably is to give the characters some more substance, takes a turn in pace and propels quickly towards its ending. There is some tense moments and some shocking moments and some predictable moments where the character makes a desperate albeit dumb decision. There are some nicely crafted moments here but Hammer of the Gods just falls short of its potential.
Hammer of the Gods is screening at The Royal Cinema on November 24th at 4:30pm for Blood in the Snow Festival.
Cast: Thomas Cocquerel, Camille Stopps, Angus Macfadyen
A severely injured man and woman awake in an abandoned sanitarium only to discover that a sadistic caretaker holds the keys to their freedom and the horrific answers as to their real identity. – IMDB
Let’s face it. At this point in the horror film scene, a lot of plots have already been used. Alive’s plot absolutely looks familiar. One setting, sanitarium, amnesiac captives/patients, ominous unknown captor: been there, done that, right? What separates a familiar plot from the crowd is how it is executed and what twist it can add and especially for something set in one location, how engaging its characters are. Alive nails all these elements and successfully creates an impressive thrilling indie gem.
One of its best elements is its engaging characters. By keeping its cast small, it can also control the characters depth. The amnesiac patients/captives are one man and one woman who is credited only by Man Patient and Woman Patient and played respectfully by Thomas Cocquerel and Camille Stopps. There is a world to create with this blank slate and as small specks of their memories come back, the mystery doesn’t get any less especially when faced with their captor played by Angus Macfadyen, who takes his roles and runs with it. The instability and the suspense as well as the villainous nature of his character portrayed on point at every turn, making every scene with him an absolute tense delight. Even when he is off screen, his presence is lurking in the shadows. That, in itself defines such a well acted character. There is this unknown the whole way wondering whether there is always more to a scene to the next, at the same time, wondering what link these two captives have in common. The questions are endless but that is how it is meant to be to keep the intrigue alive throughout.
Alive is also done with multiple layers. It starts out with a suspense and torture porn sort of movie. Its blood streaked in every scene. However, there is also this psychological layer to it especially when it comes to who the captor is and his final motive. However, the film takes a turn of events as it progresses and the bloody moments turn around and become a cat and mouse sort of game in the final escape and the plot and motives unravel. The finale definitely takes the audience for a ride in an unexpected and surprising way.
However, Alive takes a step too many which is where it falls short. There are after credits scenes so do remember to stay to watch it. The unnecessary additions to a lot of horror is what drags this down. Its a pity that Alive decided to take such a cheap and expected route. It didn’t really need to because the entire film before it had done such a wonderfully executed horror thriller filled with tension and suspense.
Alive will be showing at the BITS Festival on November 23rd at 9pm at The Royal Cinema.
Seeing as you all seemed to enjoy the last post format and I’m a bit tight on time for recording and editing so we’re back to this to last catch up phase. This part of What’s Up runs through the first half of November to the end of last week.
Its been a really good two weeks of reading especially when all three books were really good. However, my standout pick goes to Eternal Hunger that adds a really lovely setup for a vampire story making it such an elegant and classy read that is always enjoyable. To be honest, all three books were all fairly different genres so it made for a very interesting change of pace. Fantasy, Horror, Romance was all covered this month at different points making it an even more memorable month.
Currently reading: I’m not reading anything right now. But I did start the chinese novel for Rush to the Dead Summer after watching the series in October. I’m also planning on getting some graphic novels as light reading done before the end of the year and/or read some outstanding books that was sent to me for an honest review. Clearing out the backlog is the priority right now.
Double Kick Heroes – Early Access Update
Tetris Effect – Demo
Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight/Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight – Demo
Burly Men at Sea
You can find the playthroughs of each of these on the Game Warp channel. I do have to say that out of the fantasticness of Double Kick Heroes and how impressive and even the changes its made since its initial Early Access launch, I have to recommend that especially if you enjoy rhythm games with a shoot ’em up twist. However, I was pretty impressed with Tetris Effect demo as well but that has to do with my having a soft spot for Tetris as its the first video game that I ever played. Aside from that, the playthrough currently still running on Game Warp is the first run of 60 Parsecs! which is a day by day survival adventure story heavy on narrative and strategy. The review for that one is coming up soon.
Currently playing: A lot of mobile games mostly. I am about to do the new DLC for Hidden Folks, finish up Remember Me and continue working on some more routes to take for Burly Men at Sea. I’ll be checking a demo or two and have a few games that I need to work on. Also prioritizing clearing out backlog, like unwritten reviews.
I didn’t realize that I had watched that many movies but I guess it makes sense seeing as Blood in the Snow Festival is coming up (November 22nd) and there’s some coverage. The first review is already up for Altered Skin. With that said, Alive is one that I’ve enjoyed a lot as a horror thriller. The review will be up very soon. Honorable mentions for this time goes to Moonlight, Mimic and Joe Versus the Volcano although for an fun time, Central Intelligence with The Rock is a pretty sure bet.
Currently watching: BITS 2018 films. Not listing specifics because what fun would that be, right? You can head over to Blood in the Snow festival page to check out the list of films HERE.
The Inn (Season 2) – currently playing
All Out of Love – currently playing (might have just finished but I haven’t finished it yet)
Who’s The Murderer (Season 4) – currently playing
An Oriental Odyssey – currently playing
I’ve been still in the Chinese drama phase so watching most Chinese game shows like Who’s the Murderer which is in the Season 4 (but I haven’t seen the previous ones) and plays a little like Clue where you have to investigate and there’s a murderer mixed into the suspects and a detective in different scenarios and stories to find the truth. Or something like reality shows like The Inn which is my happy place every Friday evening after work as that is when the new episode goes live on Youtube. Its a show about a rather famous couple who builds an inn with various young stars as their employees as they set it up and get it running to build up the economy for that area. As for actual TV series, I have currently have on repeat is Love O2O which is finally a series that has captured by heart because it does so many things right not to mention the chemistry is off the charts and the dialogue and characters. Love it all. However, the one that I started afterwards because of one of the supporting actors in Love O2O, Yecheng Zheng is a main lead in a series currently playing called An Oriental Odyssey which I’m having a lot of fun watching also. Its more than halfway released although I’m only at episode 23 or something.
Currently binging: All the above that is currently playing? An Oriental Odyssey is my current obsession as I catch up with the latest episode soon, I hope. I do plan on finishing All Out of Love since I just saw a bunch of posts on Weibo about the finale.
That’s it for this What’s Up! We are finally up to date! Yay! Stay tuned next Wednesday for what I’ve been up to this week!
Curious question: Do you prefer this segment in written or video format?
Blood in the Snow (BITS) Canadian Film Festival kicks off tomorrow, November 22nd at the Royal Cinema in Toronto, Canada and runs until November 27th. This festival celebrates contemporary Canadian horror, genre and underground films. While the festival only runs a few days, it is filled with not only full-length feature films but also two short film showcases, industry panels as well as a web series showcase.
Cast: Robin Dunne, Juggan Kazim, Salman Shahid, Ali Kazmi, Nimra Bucha
An American expat living in Karachi, Pakistan, Craig Evans is married to Insiya Zia, a Pakistani doctor. During a routine hospital round, contracts a virus called the MN-2. A devastating pathogen, the virus causes uncontrollable outbursts of violent rage. Then when the dead body of an investigative reporter turns up in a sewer, it sets off a domino of events that lead Craig to the mystery behind the virus…and to the last chance at saving his wife. – BITS 2018
Medical thrillers are not frequent as thriller material but have had its success. Altered Skin comes somewhere midway. The execution is clear-cut and straight forward. It starts off on the first act setting up the story and what happened to reach the point of conflict. The second act focuses on the suspense and mystery and just like any thriller, building up the unanswered questions that keep its audience intrigued and the third act works towards unraveling the final reveal. Thrillers thrive on how well the setup of the mystery is done to create the shocking yet logical fundamental twist or reveal. In some ways, that is one of the elements that slightly miss the mark. There is missing a wow factor here. While the execution is done pretty well and the suspense does build well enough, the pacing at times feels like it lingers too long on unnecessary bits.
Looking at the cast and characters, there are a lot of them. The focus is on Craig, played by Robin Dunne, who for some reason feels very rigid in this role. Something never quite feels convincing enough. Maybe it is the script and dialogue that feels slightly clunky in parts. Maybe it is the sheer amount of characters that shuffles around that never creates enough depth to connect or care about anyone of them. Or maybe it is the flow of events that sometimes try to add horror to its pure thriller roots but never seems to fit in and at times, some moments feel slightly contrived and predictable.
However, all is not lost. What works here is the setting in Pakistan plus the effects are done well, both sound and visual. The altered skin victims also have a zombie-like sort of nature to them which is also pretty impressive to see and adds to the mystery element. Altered Skin might not be perfect, but it has the makings of a well enough thriller. Packed with some intense moments throughout, the only thing lacking is the build up to the reveal that becomes slightly generic and falls short of its potential.
The world premiere of Altered Skin will be showing at BITS at The Royal Cinema on November 23rd at 7:30pm.